Flu season starts in the fall, and this year, the COVID-19 pandemic is presenting new challenges for cleaning and disinfecting the inside of a home. Cleaning refers to reducing the number of germs, dirt and impurities on the surface. It doesn’t kill the germs, but lowers the number of germs and the risk of infection. Disinfecting refers to killing germs on surfaces by using an EPA-registered disinfectant. Best practice to prevent COVID-19 and other viruses is to clean the surface first and then follow up with a disinfectant.
Cleaning and disinfecting frequent contact hard surfaces in the kitchen, dining room and bathrooms have become routine. Additional cleaning of surfaces, like doorknobs, faucets, cabinets, and play areas is a sensible precaution against the spread of disease between household members and guests. A list of disinfectant products that are EPA-approved for use against the COVID-19 virus is available here. In addition to cleaning surfaces, washing your hands frequently is an excellent tool to prevent illness. When you do not have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. It is good practice to wash hands well, for at least twenty seconds, every time you come in the house.
In particular, COVID-19 challenges homeowners and hosts to prevent the spread of disease when having guests for fall or winter celebrations or conducting business in a home. The safest approach is to celebrate with those who live in your household and connect with others virtually. If you will have guests visit your home, below are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of spreading illness.
- Have guests wash or sanitize hands frequently. Make hand sanitizer available.
- Wear face coverings when possible.
- Offer paper towels for drying hands after washing.
- Use disposable plates and glasses to prevent multiple people handling dishes.
- Have one person prepare and distribute food. This will result in fewer people having contact with the food.
- Open doors and windows for better airflow when the temperatures allow.
Stay well and healthy this winter.
Written by Holly Van Heel, Human Sciences Specialists-Nutrition and Wellness